NORRISTOWN, Pa. — The mother of a 14-year-old who authorities say had a cache of guns, knives and explosive devices in his bedroom for a possible school attack was charged Friday with buying her son three weapons.
Michele Cossey bought her home-schooled son, Dillon, a .22-caliber handgun, a .22-caliber rifle and a 9 mm semiautomatic rifle, authorities said. The teenager felt bullied and tried to recruit another boy for the possible attack at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School in suburban Philadelphia, authorities said.
Police officials told NBC News that the boy had confessed to plotting the attack.
Acting on a tip from a high school student and his father, police on Wednesday found the rifle, about 30 air-powered guns, swords, knives, a bomb-making book, videos of the 1999 Columbine attack in Colorado and violence-filled notebooks in the boy’s bedroom, Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce Castor Jr. said.
Cossey, 46, of Plymouth Meeting, bought the rifle, which had a laser scope, at a gun show on Sept. 23 and provided police with a receipt, investigators said in court papers. The teenager said the two .22-caliber weapons were stored at a friend’s house.
Father a felon
The boy’s father also tried to buy his son a rifle in 2005, but was not allowed to because he was a felon, police said.
The teen had a brief court appearance Friday at which the county public defender’s office and prosecutors agreed to continue holding him while they do psychiatric evaluations.
The boy was led out of the courtroom in shackles and he didn’t comment.
His mother was charged with unlawful transfer of a firearm, possession of a firearm by a minor, corruption of a minor, endangering the welfare of a child and two counts of reckless endangerment. She was not accused of helping the teen plot an attack, “but by virtue of her indulgence, she enabled him to get in this position,” Castor said.
The teen’s father, Frank Cossey, was sentenced to house arrest for lying about his criminal record when he went to buy a .22-caliber rifle for his son in December 2005, police said Friday. On his application he said he had never been convicted of a felony, but he had pleaded guilty in 1981 to manslaughter in a drunken driving death in Oklahoma and sent to prison, police said.
No sign of imminent attack
Castor has said he does not believe an attack was imminent or would occur at all. He said Friday that the teen had a “disturbed mind.”
“This was a smart kid that clearly believes he was picked on and was a victim,” Castor said. “He had psychological issues and began to act out on those feelings.”
On Thursday, Castor said he felt police were instrumental “in stopping a potential Columbine-like shooting.”
Video: Mom charged Police, who searched the home with the permission of the teen’s parents, also discovered seven explosive devices Castor has described as homemade grenades: plastic containers filled with pellets to which gunpowder could be added. Authorities said one grenade was operable and the others had been in the process of being assembled.
The search did not turn up any ammunition for the most dangerous firearm in the bunch, the assault rifle.
Police also found a DVD titled “Game Over in Littleton,” about the attack at Columbine, and three books: “The Anarchist Cookbook,” a 1971 book outlining how to manufacture explosives; an Army counterinsurgency operations manual; and “Hitler’s Second Book: The Unpublished Sequel to Mein Kampf.”
In April 1999, two disaffected teenage boys killed 12 fellow students and a teacher and wounded 24 other people at Columbine High School near Littleton, Colo.
The teen previously attended middle school in the district but had been taught at home for more than a year after voluntarily leaving school, Castor said.
Castor said investigators were reviewing material on the boy’s computer and in his diary.
Scared at school
Classes proceeded as normal Thursday after Colonial School District officials issued a text alert to parents saying police had determined “that the school and its students were never in danger.”
But the arrest created anxiety at the school, coming on the same day that a 14-year-old boy in Cleveland opened fire at his high school, wounding four people, before killing himself. Some parents rushed to the school to pick up their children to find a chaotic scene.
Ann Marie Walter said that when she got the message on her phone, she was “scared to death.”
“This is a terrible thing,” Walter said. “It’s not even close to home — it is home.”
Columbine references on MySpace page
The boy also had a MySpace Web page, which was filled with references to the 1999 Columbine shootings in a tribute to gunmen Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, whom he lists among his heroes.
Among his interests, the boy lists “shooting, war and bank robbery.” His favorite reading material is listed as military strategy and books by famous generals in history.
In one post, he describes himself as a mercenary soldier and highlights a quotation attributed to the Marines: “Mess with the best, die like the rest.”
Castor, the district attorney, blamed the boy’s parents for his alienation and violent fantasies.
“I’m very, very upset about the role, the lack of oversight that apparently the parents had in this case,” Castor said. “We need to recognize that parents are the primary persons responsible for teaching young people the difference between right from wrong.”
The Associated Press, NBC affiliate WCAU of Philadelphia and NBC’s Ron Allen contributed to this report.